Bird Database

Canada Jay

(Perisoreus canadensis)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Climate change

Conservation Actions

More data are needed on population trends and magnitudes of threats

Canada Jay

(Perisoreus canadensis)

Formerly known as the Gray Jay, this northern species reaches the southern edge of its range in the White Mountains. It is a tame and inquisitive bird and is well known to hikers for frequenting popular trails and expecting a treat of trail mix, fruit, or pieces of sandwich. Their boldness has earned them the colloquial name “Camp Robber.” Another such name, “Whiskey Jack,” is derived from the Algonquin name of a trickster spirit. Canada Jays will also follow large predators in the hopes of scavenging off their kills, and this behavior may have led to their willingness to approach people.

Canada Jays breed early for a boreal species, often starting nest building in February with eggs laid by March. Young can hatch as early as late March, usually while there is still extensive snow on the ground. This is a season of food scarcity, and Canada Jays supplement what they can find in the woods with food cached the previous fall. They have a viscous saliva that serves to hold items together and stick them to or under bark for later retrieval. There is some evidence that warmer winters are leading to reduced reproductive success because stored food degrades more quickly.

Caching behavior in Canada Jays has been the subject of extensive study. Among the findings have been that most food storage occurs in late summer and fall, and that birds may hide over a thousand items each day. When they encounter a particularly valuable food source, caches are initially placed close by, but some are moved later to increase their dispersion and thus chances of all being found by another animal that would steal them. That caches placed as early as August or September can still be found the following March or April is testament to the incredible spatial memories of these endearing birds.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Canada Jay
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count